Everybody wants to get their finances straight. We hear it all of the time... "Are you investing? What stocks do you own? Have you opened an IRA?"
But an important question that most forget to ask is "What broker do you use?"
Don't get me wrong, it can be a tough process and there isn't always a straightforward choice. But that is why we at Investing Simple are here to help. Today we are going to be providing a comprehensive comparison of Betterment vs Stash, two cutting-edge investing platforms that are competing for your business.
We'll be comparing the merits of both platforms as well as who each platform makes the most sense for. By the end of the article, you'll have a clear picture of where both of these brokers truly shine and which one you'll be best served by.
Betterment is one of the original robo-advisors and has gone on to become one of the dominant players in the space. Users answer a few questions about their risk tolerance and goals and Betterment creates a custom-built portfolio to meet their needs. The platform allows you to be completely hands-off with your investing, however, there is a fee for this service.
Stash presents a more hands-on investing experience. While they do offer a robo-advisor similar to Betterment, the focus of the platform is on creating your own portfolio by purchasing individual stocks. Depending on the features you are looking for with Stash, you will end up paying anywhere from $1 - $9 per month in fees.
Betterment Review 2021: Is This The Best Robo Advisor?
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Stash Review 2021: Best Investing App?
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In the past, it was difficult to get your money professionally managed if you did not have a lot of it. If you went to a traditional financial advisor with a few hundred dollars to invest, most of them would turn you down.
Betterment has a $0 minimum, meaning anyone can get started on the platform!
Additionally, they're coming in at a much more affordable price point than most financial advisors. As pioneers in the "robo-advising" industry, they are focused on lowering fees and providing greater accessibility to the everyday investor. features that were previously reserved for the 1% are now within reach of the 99% at a price point that is reasonable.
In this way, they are really changing the game for smaller investors who are now able to receive professional management of their assets.
If we had to pick one feature of Betterment to showcase, it would be its portfolio automation abilities.
Not only will your portfolio automatically rebalance and reinvest for you, but it will also be tailored to your specific needs. Betterment will ask important questions about things like your risk tolerance, investment goals, and time horizon, then create a diversified portfolio tailored to these preferences!
Once you have answered these questions, Betterment will construct a portfolio based on your specific needs and continue to monitor and update it over time.
If your portfolio strays from your target allocations, Betterment will rebalance for you on a daily basis. This essentially forces you to buy low and sell high automatically.
At the same time, any dividends you receive will automatically be reinvested across your entire portfolio and further rebalance your account.
You can also choose preset portfolios to invest in on Betterment as well if that is more your style.
One example of these portfolios would be their Socially Responsible Investing Portfolio.
This portfolio that is actively managed by Betterment focuses on companies that act in a socially responsible way when conducting their business operations. By investing solely in companies that are doing good for the planet, you can rest easy knowing that your retirement dollars are having a positive impact. However, this is just one of the preset portfolios that Betterment offers.
Another example is the Target Income Portfolio that Betterment offers targets bonds and high dividend stocks to facilitate higher dividend income. This may be a great option if you are retired, or are looking for a safe way to accrue passive income through dividends!
Investing in these portfolios is available at no additional cost to Betterment clients and allows you greater flexibility and freedom in how your assets are allocated.
Betterment's Cash Reserve initiative allows for increased savings and offers a competitive interest rate compared to other savings accounts.
If you are someone who is patient when investing and look to wait for the best opportunity to deploy your money, Betterment's Cash Reserve may be a great place to store your money when waiting it out.
You're also able to quickly move cash between your Cash Reserve and your investments and set up automation rules to further streamline the process. That means no more waiting 3-5 business day s for your funds to settle before investing. You can get in on the action right away.
Betterment does not only think about optimizing returns, but also how to minimize taxes on your investments.
They will automatically capture losses through tax-loss harvesting that can be used to offset capital gains from your other investment activity, such as earned dividends. By automatically scanning your portfolios for opportunities to sell positions at a loss while changing your allocations, Betterment is able to capture tax-deductible losses to reduce your tax bill at the end of the year.
This service on its own has the potential to more than cover the cost of Betterment and has previously only been an option for the ultra-wealthy. By taking advantage of tax-loss harvesting, it's possible to sizably reduce your taxes owed to the point where these savings more than cover the cost of Betterment.
Betterment clients also have access to a free cashback checking account they can use to earn rewards from their spending. This checking account charges no fees of any kind, including ATM fees, foreign transaction fees, or overdraft, and is FDIC insured up to $250,000.
When spending on this card, you'll be automatically earning up to 5% cash back depending on where you use the card. Merchants partnered with Betterment include Walmart, Dunkin, Staples, and thousands of others.
Taking advantage of the Betterment checking account also allows you to further streamline your personal finance. By setting up Direct Deposit to this account, you can fully manage your finances all from within Betterment.
While Betterment does act to keep its costs low, it still has to make money in some way.
Betterment Digital is the basic Betterment account. This includes all of the features mentioned so far.
With a $0 account minimum, this account appeals to new investors who are looking to get their feet wet in the markets and begin investing for the future.
Included in this type of account are Betterment's portfolio automation features, its tax-management initiative, investment advice, and customer support.
The fee for Betterment's Digital account is 0.25% annually that is charged monthly.
Betterment Premium is a step up from Betterment Digital and can be opened with a $100,000 account minimum.
For an annual fee of 0.40% you have unlimited access to a team of financial planners who can help you manage your money both within and outside of Betterment.
At this tier, you are essentially reaping the majority of the benefits of working with your own financial advisor at less than half the cost. Most financial advisors start off at 1% for their services.
Stash was built on the idea that online banking should make life easier. Rather than solely focusing on investing, Stash aims to be a one-stop shop for finances.
This includes affordable investing, banking, saving, and personal guidance plans for their users.
The all-in-one approach is similar to Betterment in a number of ways. However, there are a number of important differences in how these two platforms are pursuing this objective.
Instead of offering a fully hands-off approach to investing like Betterment, Stash is much more of an active platform. Within the app, you are able to buy and sell shares of individual stocks and ETFs. Or if you'd prefer not to make your own decisions, you can take advantage of Stash's fully-automated portfolio.
When you first create an account, Stash will ask you a few questions about your goals and risk tolerance to try to point you in the right direction. However, this questionnaire will not be nearly as comprehensive as what is offered on Betterment. You'll receive some suggestions and advice, but don't expect as much guidance as you'll get from Betterment.
Also, depending on which plan you are on, the level of advice may be more or less comprehensive in nature.
One of Stash's most important features is its no commission structure.
You can execute buy and sell offers on the hundreds of stocks and ETFs offered on Stash for no charge.
Betterment also does not charge commissions. However, you're not able to select individual stocks and ETFs to purchase on Betterment so all of the trading is done automatically.
For those investors that want a more set-it-and-forget-it system, Stash Intelligent Portfolios may be an ideal solution. This is essentially Stash's automated portfolio option that serves as a less in-depth robo-advisor than Betterment.
In order to access this feature, you'll need to be on one of the higher two tiers of Stash.
Subscribers of Stash's services will be offered online banking accounts that will allow them to manage more of their finances in one place.
These accounts have highly regarded features such as a flexible money management plan and the ability to get paid up to two days early!
Included in Stash's online banking plan is their Stock-Back debit card that you can use to earn stock in the places you shop at. So if you spend $20 at Walmart, you could earn Walmart stock when you pay with your Stock-Back card.
For merchants that Stash is not partnered with, you'll be able to choose what stock or ETF they default to for your Stock-Back.
On the Stash platform, you'll have access to invest in retirement accounts like IRAs and Roth IRAs. When you choose to take advantage of these accounts, you'll be able to capitalize on significant tax benefits including tax deferral and potentially taking your investment gains tax-free!
However, these accounts do come with specific rules that you'll need to follow in order to qualify for the tax benefits, so make sure to do your homework beforehand.
You will also be able to access these retirement accounts on Betterment.
If you are looking to both invest AND save, Stash's Automatic Savings will be right up your alley.
You can set a fixed amount to save each week and Stash will do the rest. By automatically moving money from your checking account to a savings account, it can begin earning interest. The compound effect of this is essential for future savings and a great option if you are looking to save money!
When compared to Betterment's automation options, Stash clearly doesn't offer as much. However, if you're in search of some simple automatic deposits you'll be able to find that with Stash.
While Stash does offer $0 commissions and keeps costs lows to its users, it still operates on a subscription-based structure.
You will pay anywhere from $1 to $9 per month based on the plan you choose and the features you are looking for.
Betterment is geared towards the more hands-off, passive investor. You are not able to pick individual stocks to invest in. Instead, you will be getting a professionally managed portfolio for an annual asset management fee ranging from 0.25% to 0.40% annually.
On the other hand, Stash is more for a hands-on investor who might want to pick and choose some stocks to invest in. The fee structure is $1 to $9 per month, making this potentially higher in fees for smaller account sizes.
When deciding between the two, it's largely going to come down to your investing style and the features that you're looking for. In general, Betterment will offer a wider array of services and require less hands-on attention from you. However, there may be some investors that prefer the simplified platform that Stash offers.